Saturday, 30 May 2015

At last something crafty

Before I write something 'crafty' I must just mention gardening, which may be boring to some, but at this time of the year, I love.

One of my nieces has just had her garden tidied up ( I was going to call it landscaping but that is too grand!) and has a long border that needed planting.  She asked me to go with her to the nursery to buy some plants and I am always up for spending other people's money!!  Off we went here and I picked up a basket - soon full.  I picked up another basket - soon full!!  Finally we had a trolley which soon became full.  When we came to plant out they didn't take up much room but over the years I hope everything will grow well.
A lovely brick wall to grow plants over - how lucky!!

Shrubs and perennials  ...

.... and more
There is plenty of room to add other plants over the years.  My other niece who lives nearby has asked me to go the same nursery and we are going to buy bedding plants for two large planters she has.  Great - I love it!!
My neighbour and I went to our local garden centre to spend some vouchers we each had and it was a fun morning, rounded off with coffee and a chat.  Plenty of plants as well!!
In between tidying my garden I have also had classes.
My embroidery class finishes at the end of June for the summer so I suddenly realised that I needed to get my sampler finished before then.  If you have been following me you may remember that I was given it at our Christmas 2014 meeting and by April I had done this much -

I only go twice a month and don't always do any homework but now the end is in sight -
Only the leaf on the left to finish - long and short stitch
I am not very good at 'long and short stitch' and because of that I have left it until last which is probably wrong, but I will finish it within the next two weeks as I want to start something new, though I don't know what.  I rather fancy goldwork!
Friday was smocking and I have so many ideas and projects that I want to do.  I had pleated some cotton voile as I want to make a large Christmas bauble but before then I must finish this -
I always seem to pick hard projects and this is proving very slow as I am using three different threads in one needle - silver, red glittery and ordinary red cotton.  They tend to tangle, knot and shred so it takes me a long time but I am pleased with the almost finished result.
When finished the bauble will be inserted and finally finished top and bottom.  I need help with this one but it will be completed at the next lesson  ..... 
The colour not too good - it should be dark green and gold stitching
I will show the finished result for both baubles later in the summer as teacher is going on holiday for a month.
I have a very busy week coming up and so this will be my last post for about 10 days, but if I get time I will update.

Monday, 25 May 2015

A mixed bag

I am calling this a mixed bag because it covers a bit of everything that I have been up to in the last few days and what a busy time it has been.  I had lunch out every day last week, even if it was only a sandwich!!

Friday saw me Nordic walking round the villages where I was brought up so a great deal of reminiscing.  When I lived there the village was slightly tatty round the edges, but now is very gentrified but looked wonderful in spring sunshine.  We walked under the windmills  ...
Across the fields
Solar panels in rows
and I was amazed that all the land under the windmills was covered in solar panels.  The windmills were very quiet and all we could hear were skylarks singing.
We finished with a pub lunch here

Saturday saw me on 50+ Adventure Club outing to Tamworth where I had organised a session on Landpaddling, but I was NOT taking part.  It did look fun though.
The boards and poles on the right
Tuition - how to do it
Going well!
On Saturday I finished off these two little cuties:-

I got the idea from crochet group as teacher, J, had made one.  She got the pattern from here and though there was an English translation it was difficult to understand.  However kind teacher that she is, she typed it up for me.  Now who shall I give them to - hhem??

Now that the snails are finished I have been able to get on with my Attic24 cosy stripe blanket.

Finally my back garden needed tidying up and I had bought some plants here that needed planting.  Whilst planting I took some photos of plants that are special to me.
Note the small wood lump in the middle
The photo above was a disaster from last year when I came home one morning to find that my next door neighbours had employed some 'cowboys' to put up a fence and they had trampled my lace cap hydrangea to death.  It had always struggled a bit so imagine my surprise the other day when I saw this -
- sprouting all over the place
Chusan palm flowering
Many years ago this palm was given to me by my son, who had it growing on his roof terrace in a pot.  It was pot bound and needed a new home, so he thought of me  and it has never stopped growing in my garden with no TLC at all!!!  It has survived very hard winters and is now enormous.

I often talk to my plants (no I am not a crazy woman, they do seem to understand) and warn them that if they don't grow I will dig them up, but this bush has a different meaning to me.
Viburnum opulus
Planted in memory of my late husband I bought it because it is supposed to flower in June which was his birthday.  It always flowers in May - so contrary!!

Friday, 22 May 2015

My 'Cambridge' Allotment

I have had a busy week and it is some days since I posted so here goes.  You will be getting another post in a couple of days as so much is happening at the moment.

My sister and I were supposed to go out together in Cambridge on Wednesday but she had to cancel at the last moment, so I decided to go anyway as I had some shopping to do.  My son lives very close to the centre of the city so free parking was on hand and with my bus pass the retail therapy cost me nothing.  This was topped off by a voucher for free cake and coffee at this store and look at its address - 10 Downing Street!!!!  Not the one everyone knows though.

After the shopping I decided to catch up on the 'allotment' at my son's garden.  If you have been following this blog you will know that we battle against the usual garden pests including a Muntjac, which eats everything in sight.  However I also have to contend with these ....
Bushes growing in the middle of the plot and a mound of spent pot compost. Spinach under the cover

I do have a small corner in the greenhouse ...

Hanging baskets waiting for fine weather

Sweet corn, pumpkins, courgettes and various beans all growing in toilet roll insides!!

that is proceeding nicely and I don't need to worry about watering as they are done when everything else is.  Toilet roll cardboard insides are saved through the year and will go straight into the ground when planted out - a great money saving tip I was given years ago.

I did some weeding as this is one of the penalties of not getting there often ....

Beetroot to be covered

Carrots - to be covered

Nibbled radishes - uncovered!!

checked the grapevine that has been tamed and trained at last ....

Tiny bunches of grapes - hooray!!

I also checked the lilies ...

'Dad's lilies' in bud

My husband died in July 10 years ago, and the lilies on my patio were in full flower and smelt heavenly so I gave each son some to remember him by.  I nurtured mine and they died, these are neglected and look how good they are and not a Red Lily Beetle in sight - it's not fair!!

By this time I was keeping an eye on the clock because rush hour in Cambridge (which starts about 3.30pm) is H*** and I didn't want to sit in a traffic jam.  However as I was driving along the Fen Causeway it was looking lovely with a mass of Cow Parsley and it warranted a photo.  I know a small free car park and luckily found a space and took the following:-

Looking toward Fen Causeway

The River Cam winding through the water meadows to Grantchester
Can you see the sheep in the trees?  Those are not swans but geese

One standing on one leg and the other drinking!!
 ... and finally I walked along the path and no sounds except for the birds; it was lovely and so close to the city centre.
What a tranquil spot.

Sunday, 17 May 2015


No, not that sort!  This is the ongoing saga of the Twisted Log Cabin that I wrote about here in April.

This is how I left it at the end and it was put to one side as I was rather busy, but last weekend I completed it.

I inserted a zip in the back and quilted the front:-

No wadding just calico on the back
I decided not to put wadding on the front as the seams are quite thick from the TLC; I sewed round the edges, remembering to leave the zip open, trimmed the edges, especially at the corners and hey presto, it is nearly finished.

I turned it through and pressed the seam so that I would have a neater finish -

and finally finished the edges off with some fancy stitches.  I chose the herringbone stitch for speed but I could have chosen any of the 50 stitches on my machine!!

By the way I sashed the edges with two strips on each side.  The first strip was using up the strips that I had left over from the TLC and then I had to think carefully what the second should be as by this time I was running out of the royal blue.  In the end I used two strips of each of the two colours.

At last it is finished and I am quite pleased with the finished result.

This is my contribution to the Higham Piecemakers cushion raffle at the exhibition of work in September! 

Now to get on with the next one - lime green and brown - not my favourite colours; but in the meantime the sun is out, gardening beckons and The Archers Omnibus is nearly finished on the radio!!

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Wildlife on the embankment

Just a quick update because I am feeling pleased with myself!!

Tuesday is a "Looking after Will day" in Bedford, so after a quick coffee with my niece, C, Will and I set off along the embankment beside the River Great Ouse to see what we could see!!

We saw these -
Canada Geese goslings

who took to the water with Mum and Dad to protect them.
Another pair with two goslings on the bank

After crossing the river we met a man who said there was a Grey Heron in the bushes so we went to have a look.  I thought it was on a nest but it wasn't -
Can you see him in this willow tree?
So a close up was needed -
I call this 'Having a scratch'!
Then I realised that it was about to fly so hastily put my camera on to 'burst' and hoped for the best.  I had lots of  photos of just the tree but managed to get these -

- so it was really worth the time I spent the other day, learning how my camera works!!

It landed on some grass a short distance away and I managed to snatch this picture before it flew out of sight again.
Having a shake or just dishevelled?
Well worth the effort I hope you will agree.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

At last - a reveal

For what seems like ages (could be about 4 months) I have been beavering away on a very special smocking project. 

As you know I have taken this lovely craft up in the last year and having made a sampler cushion and Christmas cracker I decided to embark on something a little more challenging.  My eldest granddaughter's birthday was on 1 May so I decided that if I started in the New Year I might be able to make her something by her birthday.

Teacher J has so many smocking magazines that I could look through and at last I found a really lovely pattern.  It seemed a daunting task but I was smitten: and the first item I needed was fabric so I bought a Japanese Liberty fabric that J prepared for smocking and off I went.
A full width of the fabric but no pleating at the armhole edges
It took me about three months to complete but I was working on other projects at the same time!

The next part was to cut out the pattern pieces for the bodice, save a full width piece for the back skirt and with the remaining fabric I made my own piping using bias cut strips and DMC Petra 3 cotton thread.  I was surprised how much piping I needed as it was going round the armholes, across the front and back yokes, round the neckline and down both sides of the back yoke.  As I was making the piping I realised that the fabric was just right, because it was soft and pliable and would be ideal for a little girl's skin.

At last it was finished and here are some photos that I took before it was posted for the birthday girl -
I have no overlocker so I made a blind hem with rolled edges
I rolled all the edges of the fabric to ensure they were soft.
My hands were so cold I needed fingerless mittens!!

Armhole, neck and bodice piping

The crossover back

The back crosses over and there is no seam at all, so plenty of leg room for running around and it is still modest!!
My label placed on the inside of the crossover
 I always label clothes, whether made for myself or anyone else because I understand that when they eventually get sent to charity, if there is no label items are sent for rags!!!  After all that work - never!!!!
The back

The front
and finally being worn:-

- and a happy birthday to a 6 year old in a size 7 dress that I hope will last for two years at least.

Oh and by the way smocked dresses should be every day dresses and not saved for best - that is what teacher J told me!